I had the chance to listen to a missionary family last night. These are foreign missionaries. That word ‘foreign’ should designate the type of missionary they are. It tells us that they have moved to a foreign land to serve God and reach people for the Kingdom. But have you noticed that we usually don’t say ‘foreign missionary’ when we talk about people who serve God oversees, but just talk about them as ‘missionaries’? The fact is, every Christian is a missionary… on mission, but when we talk about missionaries, we almost exclusively mean people who have left their home, learned another language, and only come around every few years to tell us the awesome things they’ve seen God do among people who have never heard of Him.
Missionaries to foreign lands usually sacrifice more than other Christians. They may live in an area with limited or no electricity, limited or unhealthy water, limited or strange clothing, limited or weird food, limited or questionable medical care, limited or sketchy transportation, and the worst… limited or no internet. How do those people live with no internet? Well, that’s why we promise to pray for them (even if we don’t) and give them a few bucks every 4 years. They are troopers for the Kingdom, bless their hearts.
Sometimes I think Christians in the ‘homeland’ financially support foreign missionaries out of pity. “Those poor people have given up a normal life to help some poor savages. I’m guessing they couldn’t find real work here at home, bless their heart. I’m sure they are doing what they can. I should probably help them out.” Sometimes we support them out of guilt. “Wow. What they do is amazing. They always have great stories of God working. But it is obvious that God is working because they love Him and they love the people they are trying to reach. I wish I was doing something great for God like that. Those are some real Christians there. I should help them do what they are doing because it is what we should be doing.”
But here is the real deal. All Christians are foreigners on this planet. You may have been born here. But when you were born again, your citizenship was transferred into a new Kingdom. You are from Heaven. Scripture tells us over and over again that we are not of this world. That means you are a foreign missionary, sent by God to the people of the community in which you now reside to speak to them about things they do not know. Some of them speak a strange language, wear funny clothes, have sketchy transportation, lacking solid medical care, eat weird food, and may or may not have internet. You as a Christian are a missionary sent to them. Love them. Give them the Gospel. They are your responsibility. If a ‘foreign missionary’ showed up in your culture, they would probably revolutionize it. So why aren’t you?
Jesus understood this. He was born in this world, but He came from another place. One time He was praying for His disciples and said this, “I have given them Your word. The world hated them because they are not of the world, as I am not of the world. I am not praying that You take them out of the world but that You protect them from the evil one. They are not of the world as I am not of the world. Sanctify them by the truth; Your word is truth. As You sent Me into the world, I also have sent them into the world.” (John 17:14-18)
Jesus said that His disciples, including you and me… are not of this world just as He is not of this world. We all know how other-worldly He was. That’s a powerful statement about us as foreigners. He chose to live here and bring the Gospel of new life. So must we. He was sent by the Father. Now we are sent by Jesus. If you are a Christian today, you have been sent by God as a foreign missionary to your zip code, or wherever your feet take you today. If we start acting like foreign missionaries in our communities, maybe we will see the changes foreign missionaries see in other parts of the world.
How about that… you get to be one of those weird missionaries that only comes to church to talk about the amazing things they’ve seen God do. Cool, huh?!?
Click the photo on this page to check out the work by some missionaries getting it done in Papua New Guinea. If you are looking for a missionary to support, feel free to contact me. I know a few.
[Bible quotes are from the Holman Christian Standard Bible, unless otherwise noted.]
Find more of David’s work at Heart Of Ministry.
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My name is David, and I want to know God more, and help other people find Him.